Archive for February, 2014

MUST HAVE CANADIAN INDIE ALBUMS-February 2014

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

Having lived through one of the coldest Februarys on record, Here are 3 incredible albums that will keep you smiling and warm your soul.

tsup1THE SUPERLATIVE-Chester

This Ottawa, On band have developed a unique a sound that combines elements from several genres.The songs contain a reggae beat, layered with a pop melody, rock guitar, and hints of blues and psych rock. The album is dynamite, providing a guitar driven sound with a wonderful rhythm section. And if that is not enough, the album artwork is very cool. Definitely 1 for the collection and a band to keep your eyes on.

mf11THE MICRONITE FILTERS-Wizard Blood

11 months after the release of Chasing Ghosts, this Oshawa, On, band released Wizard Blood. With all of the alternative blues-rock stylings I had heard on Ghosts, I assumed that I was in for more of the same on this new release. Sometimes it is nice to be mistaken. This 9 track album on Get Bent Records, produced by the bent brothers, who I suspect are Abel Renton and Dan Reiff, takes the music to places it has not been before. I like The Micronite Filters. This album seems to be a continuation of the themes of their previous release, showcasing the band’s growth and maturation. I really dig it. Each track feels like an experiment in pushing the limits of their sound. While Chasing Ghosts had me experimenting with this band, Wizard Blood has me addicted.

tm11TOXIC MELONS-Bus Therapy

Not Canadian, but it doesn’t matter. Bus Therapy is my kind of therapy. Truly inspiring, soul touching, and mind altering. The album plays like a journey through a toxic mind, but that’s ok. The songs are pop heaven, with shades of folk, blues, electronic, and some western influences. This Paul Fairbairn can write songs. The melodies are out of this world, and the harmonies, well, remind me of The Beach Boys. The music is wonderfully eccentric.The album is insanely addictive. It has me singing along and I haven’t figured out all of the lyrics yet!  An amazing compilation of great songs that has been placed on my must have list. Very cool.

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TOXIC MELONS-Bus Therapy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

tm12So, the story goes that Paul Fairbairn, Pablo Melons himself, was taking a lengthy bus trip and became so inspired, that he  the he got the idea for the entire album right there and then. Why not? George Harrison was said to have written “Blue Jay Way” on a plane!

I first encountered Toxic Melons in May, 2013, and my love affair with their quirky U.K. sound continues with the new release, Bus Therapy, which I was fortunate to get pre-release.

The album opens with “More Or Less“, showcasing way cool  piano and organ, a great melody and super harmonies. The song could be on any XTC album. “Journey“, an instrumental, has a dynamite musical melody that sits under  electronic effects to create a Close Encounters feel. The acoustic guitar of “Let Me Sleep” is reminiscent of early Bowie, and fits perfectly among the weird keys that create a circus tm13atmosphere.  Interesting melody, sweet harmonies and a precise and tight guitar solo. “Disco Balls“, an amazing satire of the genre, nails it, with a great disco beat, cool changes and transitions, and  great electronic effects. The cowboy sentiments of “Just One Beer“, captured by the saloon style piano, hide just below a sweet melody, nice harmonies and cool guitar riffs and runs. “Getting Old“, with its melancholic melody, delivers dynamite strings and horns, great transitions, and a cool bridge. I can’t help liking the vocal track. “Take Me Back” is beautifully melodic, with harmonized vocals that rival The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. That good! The track kills, with amazing flute and acoustic guitar, and wonderful arrangements. I am particularly fond of the vocals being the primary instrument here. Surprisingly, I have 2 favorite tracks. The wonderfully fabulous melody and sweet harmonies, combined with some way cool piano,  and lyric- “was a need to change the world before her lifetime expired; no complicated reason, just the way she was wired”- had me asking why “Change The World” hasn’t been on a Nilsson album. “Not In Love” has a great pop melody and  lush harmonies. The guitar and piano are dynamite, and I really dig the guitar runs. The bridge is perfect. Great pop song!

tm11Bus Therapy is my kind of therapy. Truly inspiring, soul touching, and mind altering. The album plays like a journey through a toxic mind, but that’s ok. The songs are pop heaven, with shades of folk, blues, electronic, and some western influences. This Paul Fairbairn can write songs. The melodies are out of this world, and the harmonies, well, remind me of The Beach Boys. The music is wonderfully eccentric.The album is insanely addictive. It has me singing along and I haven’t figured out all of the lyrics yet!  An amazing compilation of great songs that has been placed on my must have list. Very cool.

Check out Toxic Melons and help this band:https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/11591364/toxic-melons-bus-therapy-kick-starter-campaign

 

 

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COMMENTS AND CONCERNS-Alibi

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

alibi2My first impression of Comments and Concerns debut Double EP Alibi when I starting listening, was that is was fusion of traditional elements of western Canadiana pop wrapped in a warm fuzzy ethereal blanket of comfy sound that was soothing and stimulating.   It is always a good policy to never put all your stock in a first impression.  Half way through Alibi…..we take a sharp angular turn.

This isn’t just a collection of songs put together in one place, but a deliberate two part adventure sharing the bands musical journey.  The first half embodies that down home friendly feel good easy to listen to pop.  The second half is more edgy and musically complex in the arrangements.

alibi3“Sweater State Of Mind” is my favourite of the first half.  It is fun, upbeat and catchy.   I enjoy the use of the violin in this song as well as in”Damian”.  It adds that definitive classic prairie influence that stands out as the hallmark sound of Saskatoon‘s Comments and Concerns musical origins.”

alibiAs much as I found something endearing about each song in the first half of Alibi,  I was much more drawn to the more raw and daring style of the second half.   Alibi Pt 1, is a short introduction that snaps us out of the sunshine and clean crisp brightness into the shadier rough and raw Alibi Pt 2 which is a rich sound-scape of full bodied alternative rock with an aggressive in your face attitude.   “Cold Shiver Shake” has a real rhythm driven quality with a Tragically Hip feel.   “Miss Understanding”,  the most unique of the second half of this tour d’oppose.   The poetry blended with the sultry sulk that carries the song through a very unique use of percussion which seems to ebb and tide the song in and out of melancholy.  “Renegade”,  is my song choice off the entire Alibi offering.  Still strongly unique,  both the lyric and the musical energy maintain a strong passionate presence.   It has the lightest and most optimistic feel of the songs from the second half while still retaining the edge.   A satisfying denouement to this voyage of musical discovery.   Comments and Concerns demonstrate they have a solid foundation that firmly supports their vision quest to grow and experiment as musicians

Listen to and purchase Alibi.

.

r1Rocinante is an Innovator, Creator and Passionate Expressionist.

Music is not an interest, it is a lifestyle choice. You do not choose the song….the song chooses you.

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ALYEUS-Forty Days At Sea

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

alyeus3I have always been a fan of progressive rock. Most of my 20s were spent listening to Yes, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, and Flash. My interest in the resurgence of progressive rock bands currently releasing material in Canada, is piqued every time I discover a new one. Alyeus (pronounced Ah-lie-us), another London, On band, released their 12 track debut album, Forty Days At Sea, in September, 2013. As part of a 3 album project, the first release is actually the middle piece of the opus. Only a prog-rock band could make sense in that. Citing Pink Floyd, Dream Theatre, and Black Sabbath among their influences, these guys have a unique take on the genre.

The ambient, atmospheric rock that filled arenas in the 1970s, wafts through this album on waves of hard rock. Forty Days At Sea is filled with wonderful changes and transitions. There are beautiful harmonies, particularly the operatic sounds on “VII“. The guitars are amazing, playing hard alyeus2rock riffs over progressive instrumentation. The riff in “Triton’s Horn” is reminiscent of Steve Howe, while the power chords convey the energy of this band. There are cool effects, and some amazing bass on “The Chambers” and “The Keeper“. The vocals are cool, laying somewhere between Geddy Lee and Jon Anderson, and the drumming is spectacular throughout.  The music is incredibly melodic, with wonderful themes woven in. There are way cool tempo and time signature changes.The use of instrumentals throughout the album, serves to set the mood for the next theme. Pay particular attention to “Dreaming In Waves“, and “Elysium“, which evokes shades of Yes’ Tales From Topographic Oceans. The coolest song on the album, “Forty Days At Sea“, is a great song in any genre.

alyeus1Alyeus delivers an exceptional concept album with themes that are dark and disturbing, and music that is hauntingly melodic. This is an album that should be listened to in its entirety, from beginning to end at one sitting. If you like progressive rock, and musical themes, you owe it to yourself to check these guys out. Finally, a band that brings back the way cool concept album. You can listen to and purchase Forty Days At Sea here.

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THE SUPERLATIVE-Chester

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

tsup2The Superlative released their 6 track debut album, Chester, in March 2013. I was pretty upset that I didn’t find out about it until December, 2013. Influenced by the likes of The Who, The Flaming Lips, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, The Allman Brothers, and I Mother Earth, among others, had me interested. This 5 piece band from Ottawa, On., delivers a sound I can best describe as rockgae.

tsup1Inner Muse” has great fuzz guitar over a reggae beat. There are great changes and a wonderful guitar solo that lies just under the power rock vocal track. In “Anthem Of A Degenerate” we are treated to nice transitions from reggae to rock and back again, a great melody and very cool guitar riffs and solo. The wonderfully creative vocals at the end of “Dancing In My Mind“, take nothing away from the great guitar solo, nice change in tempo and a way cool blues riff. I really like  “Hot Summer Dub“, with its sweet melody,  and cool changes. There are some interesting psych rock guitar effects here that make me think of Tommy James & The Shondells. tsup3 “Dark Nights (Don’t Look So Pretty)” nails it. A great pop melody and harmonies, with  wonderful  guitar work underneath, amazing transitions, and a kick ass ending. Yep. Nails it! There is a way cool bass line in” The Beast Within“, as well as, a great vocal track and a dynamite riff.

These guys are definitely talented. They rock, and they rock hard. The songs contain a reggae beat, layered with a pop melody, rock guitar, and hints of blues and psych rock. The album is dynamite, providing a guitar driven sound with a wonderful rhythm section. And if that is not enough, the album artwork is very cool. Definitely 1 for the collection and a band to keep your eyes on.

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THE MICRONITE FILTERS-Wizard Blood

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

11 months after the release of Chasing Ghosts, this Oshawa, On, band released Wizard Blood. With all of the alternative blues-rock stylings I had heard on Ghosts, I assumed that I was in for more of the same on this new release. Sometimes it is nice to be mistaken. This 9 track album on Get Bent Records, produced by the bent brothers, who I suspect are Abel Renton and Dan Reiff, takes the music to places it has not been before.

mf12Keep The Fire Burning Bright“, has a great blues riff and amazing vocals. What a great opening track. It grabs you hard and just won’t let go. The fuzz guitar, and cool harmonica of “Roll On“,  help to create a Mississippi blues tune with a hint of Southern gospel. “Blood On The Flowers” offers a dynamite electric piano solo, great effects, solid drumming, and a very interesting layering of vocals and guitar. The changes and transitions are unexpected and very cool. The haunting vocal track of “Breadcrumbs” enhances the great melody, while the guitar picking and electric piano are wonderful. The rock-blues song “Death Leather Blues” gives us power chords, slide guitar, horns, and an amazing guitar solo. The sound touches on Southern Rock, with its rock beat and blues influences, and I really dig the all-star blues finish. “Whiskey Bottle” is a rock-blues frenzy with psych-rock elements. There are great echo guitar effects, and changes in tempo and time signature. The lyric, “another broken down, bubble gum princess singing out of tune” adds poignancy to the album. Very cool song. The wonderfully melodic instrumentation of “Hellhound On My Trail“, opens up a diverse and complex track. There are great harmonies, beautiful saxophone, and a simple yet powerful solo that, with amazing shades of The Doors, at times. “Po’ Black Maddie” delivers another great blues riff. This song is more mf11up tempo, with nice harmonies. There is a deep south blues coupled with rock elements, that give this a live recording feel.  Despite the somewhat disturbing title, “Blood In My Eyes For You” plays as a rollicking, rocking blues tune that goes on for almost 7 minutes. A sort of Micronite Filters opus! The track has a great rock melody. A well constructed rock song with blues influences. Great drumming, wonderful transitions, and a way cool power rock riff, all combine to make this my favorite track on the album. The electric piano rocks, and the song slows into a dynamite sax solo. A great track with some way cool elements of psych-rock. The song has elements of everything I have listened to over the past 50 years, and it keeps taking me back there. Blood In My Eyes For You should come with a warning: May cause flashbacks.

Ballad Of The Banker’s Son from the Chasing Ghosts album

I like The Micronite Filters. This album seems to be a continuation of the themes of their previous release, showcasing the band’s growth and maturation. I really dig it. Each track feels like an experiment in pushing the limits of their sound. While Chasing Ghosts had me experimenting with this band, Wizard Blood has me addicted.

Check out and purchase all of The Micronite Filters albums.

 

 

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INDIE MUSICOLOGY

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

From the pen of Frank Gutch, Jr., a writer of some repute from the Pacific North-West. This guy knows music, and is an unwavering supporter of Indie Music, wherever he finds it. Proud and honored to have him write this for us…

It Was 50 Years Ago Today: Bullseye Canada’s Beatles Tribute Hits the Bullseye!

“I been blindsided!” said Jimmy Durante before hotcha-ing his way offstage.  I always liked Jimmy and his schtick of mispronouncing names and words and his vaudevillian attitude toward music, so it is no wonder that I take on that persona now, attempting to make light of my two year battle against cover songs and tribute albums.  I have made no attempt to hide my distaste of the trend, preferring instead to hear the original music shoved aside for this dip in the shallow end of the music pool  by musicians of supposed worth, but maybe I should have.  It would make it easier to write this, a review of an album of (argh!) covers of Beatles songs in the form of (double argh!) a tribute album, but write it I must, if only to give credit where credit is due.

50yrs

And I suppose if you must give credit to anyone besides the musicians, who all knock the ball out of the park on It Was 50 Years Ago Today, it would be Bullseye Canada‘s head bull, Jaimie Vernon.  Sure, the idea was one many had at the 40 year mark of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album (50 Years Ago Today grew out of Bullseye‘s CD compilation of ten years ago titled It Was 40 Years Ago Today, you see), but the brilliance here is not in the idea but the execution.  When this was produced, The Beatles were executed.  Beautifully.  You can hear it here.

Of all the artists on this album— fifteen of them— I knew of only two:  Goddo, an artist/band of legend in Canada, and The Kings, of This Beat Goes On/Switching to Glide fame.  I also knew a bit of Jaimie Vernon‘s work (he is featured on Helium Kids‘ contribution).  Twelve were artistic strangers to my ears.  No longer.  Not only have I fully embraced every artist’s cover of their chosen Beatles track, I will be checking out their histories.  This is that good.

You couldn’t start a project like this off better than  with Good Morning Good Morning, and when it sounds like The Lolas, it is doubly good.  I scratch my head, thinking back to the days of the Beatles recording and how no one could possibly have done it justice besides them— not in my mind— and here I am, fifty (forty) years later and hearing a cover which makes me actually want to hear a Beatles song again.  Nothing against The Beatles, but I am old enough to have lived through the transformation of rock ‘n’ roll to rock and have heard The Beatles, ad infinitum, to the point of boredom.  I love the songs.  I just don’t want to hear them anymore.  Until now.  I was skeptical.  Now I am reborn.  Killer track.

The only version of Savoy Truffle I’ve been able to stomach since the original was Terry Manning‘s off of his Home Sweet Home album— ten+ minutes of it.  Yet The Dons crank out an arrangement mixing The Beatles with guitar from James Bond and I’m bopping my head with abandon.  Great vocals  over the top of some brassy electric guitar and pounding rhythm section.  A+.

Alison Solo takes Paperback Writer into semi-punk territory, spitting lyrics over the background “paperback writer” harmonies, finishing the song with a chunky guitar flourish.  Just enough Beatles with modern day embellishments.  I love the song.  I love this version.

I’m always kidding Jaimie about people letting him anywhere near a microphone, but it is just kidding.  On Helium Kids‘ version of Fixing a Hole, he shows attitude worthy of his punk past.  Says his inspiration came from fellow Helium Kid Jeff Leeson‘s love of XTC.  Early Andy Partridge, indeed.

Helium Kids (Jamie Vernon & Jeff Leeson)

Country/folk up any Beatles song and it couldn’t be any truer to the original than Jeff Jones‘ version of I’ve Just Seen a Face.  Short and sweet, just like it was written and recorded forty years before.
 Jeff Jones
Why am I not surprised that Goddo would choose an early rocker to cover?  Greg Godovitz has been all over the place in his long career, but he loves his roots and roots is what he gives on You Can’t Do That.  If you had asked me blind who it was, I could as easily have said Swinging Blue Jeans or Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas as Goddo.  Outstanding in its subtlety.

Phil Vincent is a name I somehow missed in my long run in music and I don’t know why.  Swear to God, Canada, as much as I like to think as the Northern US, is a whole different country musically.  And I Love Her has crunchy rhythm guitar, late-seventies lead guitar and solid vocals.  Like REO Speedwagon might have done it in their early days.

Tom Hooper?  Long Long Long?  Hell, I didn’t even know this song was by The Beatles.  One they did not kill through overplay.  Hooper nails it— smooth vocals, instrumental background and all.  Very well done.

Tell you what.  Let’s take Eleanor Rigby on a bit of a ride.  Which is what The First Time must have said because the driving rhythm guitar pushes the song while odd semi-lead guitar over the top gives it a slightly dissonant tone.  SF’s The Tazmanian Devils might have played this on a really good night.  I loved the Devils.  Still don’t understand how they missed.

The First Time

fs21Frank Soda?  Great name!  Think of all the possibilities for album covers!  A bit of drama in his presentation of I Feel Fine turns it into a whole ‘nother song.  If they ever do a Beatles stage thing similar to the one they did about The Four Seasons (What was that?  Jersey Boys?), this is the arrangement they should use.

Eytan Mirsky was a mite depressed when he recorded Don’t Bother Me.  He says so right at the beginning.  Again, just enough Beatles and just enough Eytan.  Never heard it?  You’ll recognize it when you hear this.

Peter Kearns.  Man, the intro alone of Across the Universe is worth the price of admission.  Lots o’ keyboards, a light bongo effect in the background and solid vocals and you have another song which stands on its own, sans Beatles.  I really need to research him and all of the other cats I’m hearing here.

Sun PK, huh?  They sound as much like The Arbors or Orpheus as anyone on Happy Just To Dance With You.  An excellent version which makes my point that sometimes arrangements deserve a category all its own, right up there with performance and recording.  The Beatles go Hollywood?

kings14Those crazy Kings I mentioned earlier?  They take For No One and simplify and upgrade.  I especially like the guitar lead on the break.  By the way, the band has also released a collection of songs from their early days under the title Lost Tapes of a Seventies Bar Band which is intriguing, at the very least.  As for For No One, they  nail it.

Out of all the songs The Beatles have done, the one I would not want to tackle would be A Day In the Life, but Figures At Dawn didn’t even blink.  They simply tackle it from the art rock side.  Call it Music From Another Universe.  Music written for the stage.  It makes me smile, actually, because they do it so well, from the semi-operatic/theatrical vocals to the classical slant on the instrumental side.

Don’t let the fact that you may not know any of these artists throw you.  This is a first class production all the way.  The bands/artists know what to do with the music and they do it very well.

Of course, Jaimie has reactivated Bullseye Canada as an all digital label, so you can forget vinyl and CD for now, but maybe…..  Actually, I suggest you keep your eyes open.  Bullseye pressed a very limited edition of the three CD set (of which this is only one) under the 40 Year title (see above), so you might find, if you are very very lucky, a used copy out there somewhere.  You will have to battle me for it, though.  After hearing these fifteen tracks, I now hunger for the whole enchilada.

Covers?  Tributes?  I’m not giving up my negative attitude toward the trend just yet, but this has put a real dent in my negativity, though.  A big dent.

fg44Frank Gutch, Jr. is an international man of mystery, searching high and low for Indie music most of us would otherwise never hear. Check out more of Frank’s writing at rockandreprise

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